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UAE reminds public to take preventive measures as COVID-19 cases jump to 27

DUBAI:  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reiterated its calls for the public to take preventive health and personal hygiene measures as the number of COVID-19 cases jumps to 27.

This, following announcement issued on late Tuesday evening, March 3, by the Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) that six new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed.

“The total number of coronavirus cases has reached 27,” MoHAP said, noting that at least five of the total number were previously reported to have fully recovered.

MoHAP said the new cases were being monitored under the standards of World Health Organization (WHO) and that the individuals are currently in stable condition, receiving all necessary health care required.

The development came as the UAE Ministry of Education announced that all schools and universities in the country will be closed for four weeks starting on Sunday, March 8.

2020 UAE Tour

In an advisory, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) said the six individuals diagnosed with the new coronavirus include two Russians, two Italians, a German and a Colombian. The patients were connected to the two previously announced cases associated with the cycling event, the UAE Tour, ENA said.

The Abu Dhabi Sports Council, on Feb. 27, announced it has cancelled the remaining rounds of the 2020 UAE Tour after two Italian participants tested positive for COVID-19.

The two Italian team members were part of the technical crew, who typically do not mix with participants in the event, according to Dr. Abdul Rahman bin Mohammad bin Nasser Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention.

“A total of 612 people who were in contact with the two Italian patients were examined, and the laboratory results for 450 showed they were free of the virus, while results for the remaining 162 people were expected soon,” said Al Owais.

The minister made the statements during a joint news conference with Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education at the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NECDMA) in Abu Dhabi on Saturday, Feb. 29, according to the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) website.

On Friday, Feb. 28, Reuters reported that two luxury Abu Dhabi hotels were in lockdown as part of efforts to isolate guests after the two Italian members of the cycling event were suspected of contracting the coronavirus.

Guests at the two hotels were screened following concerns they might have interacted with the Italians.

The hotels were named in a Reuters report as the W Abu Dhabi and the Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, both on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi.

In its statement, MoHAP noted that “all individuals within the two quarantined hotels that had no direct contact with athletes and their administrative teams were examined, and that those that tested negative for the coronavirus were allowed to leave the hotel premises.”

Individuals currently quarantined will be “re-examined and tested for the virus to ensure their utmost safety,” MoHAP further said, adding that disinfection and sterilization procedures will be carried out for all buildings, utilities and vehicles.

School’s out

Meantime, MoE announced on Twitter that all schools and universities in the UAE will be closed for four weeks starting Sunday, March 8. “The facilities will be deep cleaned during this time,” it said.

“This decision was made in the best interest of the health and safety of the students and the wider education community at schools and universities,” MoE added.

It added that public schools will start distance learning initiatives while private ones were encouraged to share their distance learning plans with parents and students.

Transparency

Meantime, MoHAP said it “continues to adhere to principles of transparency in its dealings with all cases related to the emergence of COVID-19 since its outbreak in China.”

It also noted that all concerned authorities in the UAE have joined forces to monitor the situation, and prevent the further spread of coronavirus.

MoHAP assured that medical facilities have been equipped with all the necessary medical equipment and supplies to provide care and take all measures required to deal with COVID-19, including airborne infection isolation rooms, following standards of World Health Organization (WHO).

MoHAP advised members of the general public to adhere to preventative health and personal hygiene measures to prevent the spread of the epidemic.

It noted basic protective measures such as the frequent washing of hands; covering the mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue and discarding the tissue immediately when coughing and sneezing; and seeking early medical care if symptoms of fever, cough and difficulty in breathing arise.

There are approximately 750,000 Filipinos across the UAE. Two of the confirmed COVID-19 cases are Filipinos.

The first confirmed COVID-19 cases, which involved a family of four from China, was announced in late January. A month later, the number has risen to 27.

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